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David Wood News/Business. (2012) An interview with David Wood, Senior Military Correspondent for the Huffington Post.

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Iraq 9, Afghanistan 9, Washington 7, Us 7, Walter Reed 6, Vietnam 6, San Antonio 6, Bethesda 4, Tyler 4, Huffington 3, Bobby 3, Pentagon 3, U.s. 3, Los Angeles 3, Philadelphia 3, Todd Nelson 2, The Navy Corpsman 2, David Wood 2, Florida 2, Germany 2,
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  CSPAN    Q A    David Wood  News/Business.  (2012) An interview with David  
   Wood, Senior Military Correspondent for the Huffington Post.  

    July 23, 2012
    6:00 - 7:00am EDT  

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pulitzer last year for public service. >> what is your series about? >> it was a 10 part series about the men and women who are almost mortally injured in a war. the huge advances that have been made in medical trauma treatment of the last 10 years -- they are being saved. almost everybody who falls on the battlefield is being saved. i wanted to write about what life was like for these people. i really started off with a question, having seen some people who were pretty gruesomely maimed -- would it not be better if they were dead? don't they wish they were dead? >> i want to go to the care
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givers first. sheryl is the first we have up. we will see video in a moment. she writes that amputees have a particularly hard time. it takes almost twice as long to walk and with prosthetics. without exercise, wheelchair users have a higher risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. talk about the care giver, and what they do with all of this. >> many of them are young. soldiers and marines are 18, 19, 20. when they get married, their wives are 19, 20. very often, the couple would get married. a few months later, the husband would go to war. a few weeks after that, he would come home in bandages, in a coma. the young wife, who has been married a few months to this person, is now in charge of
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taking care of that person for their lifetimes. imagine the shock, the grief, to see your loved one in that kind of position, and it slowly dawning on you you will have to learn to take care of this person. you will have to immediately learn to change dressings, to administer iv's, to keep track of dozens of medications. it is an enormous responsibility, and it comes amid intense grief and shock. the ones that i met are really strong people. i came to admire them so much. >> a woman is quoted as saying, "we have all thought about it." most of the women have felt that way, that the only way out
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is to kill herself. >> it is such a burden. it can feel like such a burden. for one thing, understand that when your loved one is almost mortally wounded, greatly wounded, you do not have that person to talk to any more. you are really alone. many of them come to a military hospital like walter reed, where they are surrounded by the best medical care in the world, i think. extremely caring and understanding nurses and social workers and psychologists. as much care as we can think of to give them. and yet, that are still alone. and often, they are caring for small children as well. i have seen these mostly young women bear up, day after day,
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and this terrible burden. at some point, they go off and find a room and sit there with their head in their hands, and weep. it is very, very hard. >> explain the circumstances. >> brian was a soldier. he got blown up in iraq. an ied hit the vehicle he was in. he did not lose any limbs, but his legs were shattered. he had that indefinable thing that i call combat trauma. if you are not specifically diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury or post-traumatic stress syndrome, if you are not specifically diagnosed, you can still have a range of symptoms, and he does.
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they include depression, anxiety, not wanting to be in crowds. the thing that really struck me was, he said, "i just feel a little slow. mentally, i used to be a steak knife. now, i am a butter knife." i thought that really sums upper what so many combat veterans are experiencing. they are just not the same. even as their physical wounds healed, the mental trauma goes on. >> inevitably, the frustration turned them on each other. sheryl would prod him to be more active. he would accuse her of trying to run his life. he tried to wean himself off the drugs. fights became frequent. he tried to run her over. he fled the house with his gun.
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he told cheryl he wanted to commit suicide. she told him that decision was up to him, but "i was not going to help." he began crying, and she held him. what were the circumstances? >> you know the stress that every married couple goes through. a couple where one of them is severely wounded, and is struggling with physical and mental wounds and, and the other partner is struggling with the burden of care giving -- it is enormously stressful. i cannot imagine what they went through. are going through. they are still together. there are a great couple. they are wonderful. but like every couple, they have fights, jealousies, misunderstandings, hurt feelings. all of that is magnified by the stress they are under.
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even in the case where we celebrate the wounded warriors, as we should -- they appear at ball games and fourth of july celebrations, and so forth. behind the scenes, on the off days, they are still struggling, and it is really hard. >> here is a video. >> caregivers often find they also have the nightmares and emotional outbursts of ptsd. psychotherapists now recognize this as secondary ptsd. >> the nightmares continue, three or four tonight. terrorist attacks, people being shot, cleaning wounds. >> after the immediate time in the hospital, the stresses were caused by me more than anything, just my attitude and
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my frustrations. she was the bearer of all of that. i took it out on her, unfortunately. >> where do those folks live? >> they live in tennessee, in a nice house. they both have good jobs. she works for a nonprofit organization that helps wounded warriors and their families. she is really good at it. she really gets it. brian is talking about something i did not mention. the burden of being severely wounded falls on people who pride themselves on their athleticism, on their ability -- there stoicism. these are really active, smart, aggressive, pushy -- in a good way -- fun-loving kids who get wounded. now, they are struggling with, in some cases, severe
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restrictions on what they can do. i think that is what brian is alluding to. he felt incredible stress that he took out on his wife. >> here is another excerpt. it is a mother this time. the things i had to do for my child of 22 or 25, things you do not think he will ever have to do. you have to wipe his bottom, hold him in the shower, wash his privates, and things people cannot comprehend. it creates intimacy, but it is damaging. that is not what your adult male child wants his mother to be doing. >> that was the mother of scott stevenson, who was also in the army, and was blown up by an ied. lost a leg. heavy burns. he was badly wounded. he was taken to san antonio.
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the called his mother. she came down and stayed with him for months. she says it is a very awkward position for a mother to be in, to be caring for your son. i cannot remember how old he was. he was a big guy. to be caring for him like an infant is very difficult. physically and menlly. you know that his life is in your hands. you have to change the dressings. it is a procedure that can take hours and hours, especially for burn patients. it is critical that no infection set in. the care givers change the dressings at morning and at night. she did that for months. i asked her, how do you do that? you do it because you have to.
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she also said, "i told the army, i gave you my son in the best physical condition of his life, and you returned him like this. i will get what i need from you, and i will make sure you do not forget it." >> how did you pick these folks, and how many did you highlight in your series? >> i talked to dozens of them. i ended up focusing on those who i thought could tell the story the best. i started at walter reed, in the amputee center. the marines in charge said, "talk to anybody you want to." and picked a young man who was working out pretty aggressively. he stopped. we talked. i ended up interviewing him 10 times.
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he was tyler southern, who lost both legs and an arm in afghanistan. he stepped on an ied. an irrepressable young american. a hero. a deeply good person. funny, fun to be around. it took me a long time to break through that sort of bravado. but i finally did. he was the subject of the first piece i wrote. he, to me, came to embody everything these young americans go through -- the pride of service, the incredible camaraderie with his combat brethren, and then abruptly waking up with no legs and only one arm, and what that
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process is like. >> can you take us from the beginning on that? where was he, exactly the experts >> he was in afghanistan, in helmand province. they were on a patrol. it was a platoon patrol, 20, 2 guys, marines. they split up to go around the side of the house. the medic, or the navy corpsman, went one way. he went the other way. the navy corpsman heard the explosion. i asked tyler what it was like. he said, "i remember going out on patrol, and next thing, i woke up in bethesda." he does not remember anything about it. as i pieced the story together,
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what happened was they were taking fire from a little cluster of houses, so that approached carefully and went around the side. whoever was inside had fled, but they had peppered the ground with ied's, and tyler stepped on one. it blew a crater in the ground. when the quarter man raced around the side of the buildings to get there, he was lying there in a smoking crater. for the navy man, james stoddard, 19 years old, his first combat patrol, his first time in afghanistan, and never treated a live casualty. i said, "what was that like?" your body is lying here, almost dead. he said, "i do not know what i thought. muscle memory kicked in." the incredible training these
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guys go through, where they respond to emergencies like that over and over again, at night time, in the dark, in the rain, over and over again, so that when it came time for his first outing as a combat corpsman, he did it. he got three tourniquets on the stumps. check his airways. did the right things. got an iv in him. they called in a medevac helicopter which took him away. >> when did he first no that he had lost three limbs? >> when he woke up, i think it was 12 days later, at bethesda. his parents were there, around the bed. he was in a medically induced coma. his heart had stopped twice in the time between when the
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helicopter picked him up and when he got to bethesda. the doctors had performed a real hail mary operation, in which they slit open the side of his chest to reach in and clamp off all of the blood vessels carrying blood everywhere except to his brain, because they wanted to keep the brain alive. everything else, they could deal with. it is an operation that usually fails. it saved his life. he eventually came out of his coma. the doctors were trying to say, "wake up." no response. they tried everything. could not get a response. he should have been waived, because he had taken the medication off. his mother said, "say hello to your mamma." he finally came awake.
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later that day, she said, "do you know what happened to you? you lost both of your legs and one of your arms." and he said, "ok. we will go on from here." >> did you ask him about that? >> i did. he said, "what is on tv?" it was deeper into our relationship that i said, you said it did not bother you. i said, really? he talked about that. but he told me was so human and so understandable. he said, "i have always been the smallest person in the family. i have two big brothers. my dad is big and capable. i did not want to do anything
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that would make me seem less in their eyes. i knew i had to step up to this, power through it, and be strong, and so i was." >> where is he today? >> i saw him the other day at walter reed hospital. he is still having operations on his remaining arm, much of which was torn away. he and his wife -- he got married. he and his wife have the house in florida. they will probably move their once he is finished. >> did he know his wife before he got into the situation? >> he went to high school with her. he always wanted to ask her out, but did not dare, because she was the prettiest girl and he did not think he had a chance. after he was wounded, his mom ran into her in florida.
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she said he was badly injured. she wanted to see him. so they went together to back up to bethesda. she walked into the room and saw him. apparently, that was that. they fell in love. she stayed on as his care giver, and they got married. >> i got these statistics this morning. in iraq, we have lost 4186 to death. in afghanistan, 2028. in iraq, we have 22,516 wounded. in afghanistan, 10,369. you say you have a figure in your stories about how many have been seriously wounded. >> nobody really knows.
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that is the really disturbing thing about this. between the defense department database and the department of veterans affairs database, there is a lot of overlap and discrepancy. if you want to know how many amputees there have been, even they cannot get a good number. when somebody is wounded on the battlefield, the combat core man and medics are so busy trying to save him, and it is usually a fire fight going on, so it is chaotic -- smoke, noise, confusion. it is very difficult to know what is going on. the defense department asks that somebody sit down and fill out a form, and file it. guess what? it does not always get done accurately. there is no really good account. i figure, between trend put everything together, about 15,000 young american men and
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women have been catastrophically wounded. that is, 10 years ago in combat, they probably would have died on the battlefield, but now they are being saved. >> to say there are four things out of these wars that have lost all four limbs. >> at least. there is probably more. >> what did they do? how did the veterans' association -- how did they take care of somebody like that? what happens to the heads of these people who have lost all of their limbs? >> i cannot speak to that. i do not know what goes on the inside. i've only met one of the quadruples, as they call themselves. prosthetic arms and legs. can get up and walk and get around. we look on these people as
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heroes. we think he is good to go. it takes an enormous amount of energy, as you alluded to, to operate those. the prosthetic arms, for its simple, are powered, and they are smart. the have computers built into them. but to operate them, you have to pritchard shoulder muscle in a certain way. so, when you see somebody with a prospective arms pick up a glass of water and drink from it, it is an enormous achievement. it takes a lot of time, concentration, and training to be able to do that. the quadruples, or even a triple like tyler -- and that is the way they refer to themselves. i am a triple, meaning a triple amputee. they can lead pretty good lives, but it is a struggle.
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the long-term consequences, we do not know about. for example, something they know from the vietnam generation of amputees is that people fitted with prosthetic legs, for example, can walk ok, but eventually, it is too demanding, and they go back to a wheelchair. it is not known what long-term health consequences stem from that, either being in a wheelchair or using prosthetic limbs. we just do not have that experience. >> you tell us that the head of the veterans administration, the former chief of staff of the army -- he would not talk to you, but he has lost one of his feet. how did he do that? >> it was blown off by a land
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mine in vietnam. he was a combat infantryman. and enormously capable guy. was famously dismissed by defense secretary rooms filled for accurately predicting how many troops it would take to fight the war in iraq. was named to be the head of the veterans administration by president obama. has done enormously good work. the reason why i did not quote him or interviewed him for this series is simply a timing. we could not make that work. but everywhere i go, every veteran i talked to, every psychiatrist or ptsd therapist or housing person -- you see his hand everywhere. it is always a personal touch. for example, i talked to some
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officials in philadelphia, who run the housing program, getting homeless veterans into housing. the secretary met with them, with these officials. he wanted to know the personal stories of the people who are still homeless. what are they still homeless? what are their names? what are their interests? i want to know what they look like. very direct and personal, which is paying off as the veterans administration becomes more effective and extends its services to more and more veterans, who are demanding more and more services. >> you can read these at the huffington post. how did they find them? >> the easiest way is to google either me, david wood, or the name of the series is "beyond
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the battlefield." if you go on huffington post and search for that, you can find it easily. >> can you download it as an e book? >> yes. in fact, we expanded it a bit. i wrote a whole chapter on coverage. mostly writing about the care givers, because it seemed like such a central concept that i wanted to just talk about courage. >> here is some video. the deal is associated with all of this. army staff sergeant todd m. nelson. >> here in san antonio, texas, surgeons, rehab specialists, and researchers are doing everything they can to deal with these deep injuries, helping soldiers heel, and finding new ways to help restore their function. >> my main thing was function. if i had any room left for more, i wanted my eyelids to
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close. i wanted to be able to eat a hamburger. >> todd nelson was serving in the army in afghanistan. i am sorry -- in iraq. he was riding in an unarmored vehicle through the city. he drove past a suicide bomber, who detonated his vehicle full of explosives and shrapnel. todd was sitting in the right front passenger seat. >> he is in an suv, and there was a white toyota? >> that is right. he was in an army convoy,
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taking stuff back and forth. simply because of the need for armor out in the field, there were not enough armored vehicles for him to ride in. there were using a regular suv. this white toyota corolla exploded. it tore off the side of the truck that todd was riding in. it catastrophically burned him, even under his helmet. it burned off all the skin of his skull. his head was literally on fire. along with much of the rest of him. of course, the blast damage tore off his face, basically. somehow, he survived. i have not met anybody who explained to me how you could survive something like that. it has something to do with the incredible will to live. they evacuated him back through
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germany. there is a military hospital which is the first stop for the severely injured coming out. >> in germany? >> yes. at that point, the doctors make a decision. is this person going to die? if so, we will get his wife here. if we can keep him alive a day or two, let us send him on. so they sent him on to san antonio, texas, where the army has a burn center, which is an amazing place. they got him there, and then began years of very painful rehabilitation and treatment. >> and this happened when? >> i do not remember. i think it was 2007, perhaps. >> can he see? >> yes. he has one good eye, one glass eye.
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>> is he married? >> what survived is his wit and his incredible sensitivity to other human beings, his faith. everything else is a little battered. his face is battered. he has an artificial ear. it is attached with a magnet to a metal plate in his call. he tells me he worries some times that he will lose it, that it will fall off and he will not notice. he has had many, many dozens of painful skin grafts on his face. skin grafts are hard, because the scar. when you have a scar, it becomes hard and lumpy and irregular. jagged, not smooth, and not flexible.
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if your entire face is covered with skin grafts, it is painful, and your faced does not work well. you cannot smile. you cannot yawn. you cannot make facial expressions. you cannot stretch your eyes. the doctors there are the best in the world. the army, it turns out, has funded all of the full face transplants done in the united states, and i think there have been seven. they have done a lot of research on cutting edge surgical techniques, trying to figure out how to do better facial reconstruction. there have been some big breakthrough since todd went through those operations. most of his face is skin grafts. it is ok. he can function. but it is not pretty.
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>> does he have a job? >> the last i spoke to him, he was trying to decide what to do with the rest of his life. he is a very religious guy, and i think he was having in the direction of being and motivational speaker, and working at a nonprofit to help other veterans. >> he had been married six months before he deployed in afghanistan. he was blown up 45 days before the end of his second combat tour. it was his second marriage. the first ended his first combat tour. his second wife was born with one leg, and walks with a prosthesis. he has led to some interesting encounters. a young man stared at them. "what happened," he gasped. >> they laughed, telling me this story. like many of the seriously
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wounded who survive, they seem to have a huge appetite for life, a big sense of humor. very fine people to be around, actually. todd has children from his former marriage. i think that our mostly grown now. sarah grew up on a farm. i think, until this happened, you would not have called her a terrifically strong person. but when this happened, she became a strong person. >> here is some video of dr. robert hale from san antonio. >> among the most gruesome and painful wounds are burns. ieds expand in a fireball, crushing faces and burning of skin, years, noses, eyelids.
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>> the story of skin is the story of staying alive, and then read generating high quality skin for the important, functional body parts, like the face. >> what is the burn center light? >> i am smiling, because i remember a story he told me. this is an example of the kind of people working in the military medical center. a very successful plastic surgeon in los angeles, bob hale. he was in the army reserves, because the army paid for him to go to medical school, so he of them some time. he got activated and sent to iraq, where he started treating the severely wounded. after he had been there a couple of weeks, he called his wife. he said, "so my practice. i am staying here." it was a lucrative practice, a
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plastic surgeon in los angeles. he has dedicated his life now to basically helping people like todd nelson recover full function of their faces. >> how big is the burn center in san antonio? >>"it is not very big. i was surprised. i think it is one floor of the hospital. the first thing that struck me is that it is warm. it is very warm. burn patients do not have skin. therefore, there is nothing to prevent their bodies from losing body heat. so the have to keep it fairly warm. the first thing they do is to take them into the shower room, which is a big yellow tile room, with gentle warm water. the have to wash away the charred flesh.
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from there, there are very specialized treatment facilities, so that the surgeons can work on repairing damaged bones. wasexample, todd's face crushed. they had to replace part of his jaw. the had to rebuild his cheekbones and his occipital, the park around his eye. all that had to be done while treating the burned itself. >> as you are talking to them, what do they tell you when they are honest about the war? that is not to suggest the are dishonest. what do they say when there is nobody watching? >> the would all do it over again. there is something that drives them to this ideal of service.
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it is like so many people i know who served in war. the intensity of the experience, the intensity of the relationships they have with their combat buddies, are so strong and so pure and true that they looked back on those times with longing. i have always asked them. do you wish this never happened? they would do it again in a heartbeat. i think there is something else that goes on as well. going through a near death experience somehow seems to give them so much strength and courage and optimism that i
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think that is a reason why they would do it again. no, there are some who do not do so well. drug addiction is so prominent among the severely wounded. they get on these drugs. very often, early on in their treatment, they are, in some sense, over medicated. i have heard that from a lot of military doctors and therapists and nurses. many of them to get addicted to drugs. it is a very hard thing to break, especially when, as in the case of brian -- he is in a military hospital for a year, 14 months, something like that. then, he is sent home. once you are out of that military cocoon, you have nobody who really understands what you went through.
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you are more or less on your own. you have to work for a boss who does not understand what, but was like in iraq, cannot really appreciate what it takes for a guy like sergeant brian ganzner to operate in a war zone. >> all of these people you wrote about were enlisted men. >> that is right. >> to officers very often get wounded this way? >> they do. but there are a lot more enlisted people and officers. in the case of tyler southern, for example, a marine -- most of the marines to get wounded in afghanistan are enlisted guys, because they are out doing the patrols. in a sense, that are more vulnerable. >> we have some more video.
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>> if i continue to do this, and i help people the rest of my life, and i have helped better them, that is the best revenge i can get on the guy who did this to me and my buddies, because i will help more people than he will ever hurt. >> his experiences raise a question that many of the badly wounded in combat wonder as they begin to recover. why did i survive? for what purpose? read how he found the answer in the story that follows. >> what do i do? live your life to the fullest. do what i am doing. face your dream. there is no reason to stop. >> what is his story? >> 82nd airborne, sergeant. blown up in iraq. humvee.
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five guys in it. four of them killed instantly. bobby rolled out, on fire. no explanation as to how he survived. he just did. he, of course, was rushed to the hospital, flown back to san antonio, to the army burn center. he was in surgery's. a long, difficult, painful recovery. but he did recover. you can see his face is mostly a mass of scars from skin grafts. he came out of that experience wondering, what am i supposed to do? four of my buddies were killed, and i was saved. he was not a terribly religious
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guy, but it was hard not to feel that god had reached down and said, "you are going to do something meaningful." he eventually found stand-up comedy as a way to bridge the gap between the wounded and the unwounded. we see this around washington, because of walter reed. there are a lot of wounded soldiers around here. we see them on the metro. people do not know how to react to them. it is awkward. a lot of times, people will just avert their eyes. it is awkward. even i was awkward at first, not knowing. should i stare at this person? should i say hello? should avert my eyes? do they want me to notice them, or what? what bobby found out, and what i found out from other wounded
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service people, is that they do want to be noticed. they want you to us what happened. bobby told me he walked into a hospital waiting room one time, and there was a guy in there, "in the plants. the guy was shocked. he dropped the water content and said, "jesus! what happened to you?" bobby broke out laughing, because it was such a human response. the wounded view their scars and missing lands as metals they won in service. they are proud, and they want to be recognized. >> i am going to show video of you from 1988, when you appeared when we read doing a call in show. before i get there, home town? >> i grew up in port washington, long island. the suburbs.
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>> your family was quicker. >> we went to quicker meeting every sunday. i learned to be a pacifist. when it came time, when i got to be a team, i declare myself a conscientious objector. i eventually did civilian service instead of going into the military. in philadelphia, and worked for a quicker rehabilitation service. >> what about school? where did you start journalism? >> i have kind of a checkered career. i started at allegheny college. we parted ways my junior year. i got drafted and did my years of civilian service. i went to night school. i eventually graduated from temple university, with a 4.0 average, and got my first job working as a stringer for time magazine.
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>> in my old school, that would have been four out of six. >> it was for out of four. >> are you required, as a conscientious objector, to do public service? >> this was early in vietnam, 1965 and 1966. it was before any draft cards had been burned. the deal was that if the local draft board approved your application as a conscientious objector, you have to find a civilian job they approved of. i found a job working for a quicker organization in vietnam. they said, you cannot go to vietnam. that is too far away. the worsening everybody else to vietnam, but they said no. that is how i ended up working in philadelphia. >> how many battles have you been in as an embedded reporter? >> i have no idea.
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in 1977, i want to africa as time magazine bureau chief. most of what i wrote about was war. i had no preparation for it at all. it had never occurred to me or anybody else that if we send a void in to cover guerrilla wars, we might want to give him some training. i had nothing. i learned on the fly, and was very lucky that i never got wounded or was in serious peril. i came back to the united states in 1980 and started covering the pentagon. i soon found out that you could go out to be filled with the army and the marines. i spent pretty much the 1980's and 1990's either out in the
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field with the military or going on what were then military interventions. went to panama. went to bosnia. desert storm, of course. by the time 9/11 came, i had a lot of field time. and i had a lot of combat time as a bystander. usually as a terrified bystander. it was a little uncomfortable, because a lot of guys in the military had no exposure to war. there would ask me sometimes, "what is it like?" i had to say, i am not a soldier. i do not participate. i just watch it happen and write about it. then, of course, 9/11 came. we went to afghanistan and iraq. pretty soon, we have a whole generation of really combat hardened veterans.
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>> different organizations to work for? >> time magazine, when i was in africa. i worked at "the washington star" for a year before it collapsed. i went to the l.a. times and covered the pentagon. i worked for a small newspaper wire service in washington, a great job. it folded and i went to the baltimore sun. they laid me off when they were closing the washington bureau. i went to aol, a little website called "politics daily." the net merged with the huffington post, i went to the huffington post. that was a year and a half ago. >> you are in 1988. >> here is the los angeles times from thursday. the lead story by jack nelson, bureau chief. effort launched to oust cia chief. have you seen this?
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>> i sure have. there is a growing sense in the intelligence community that we may have thrown the baby out with the bathwater, as we went to the iran-contra affair, when covert operations were exposed that had gone very much awry and out of control. intelligence professionals insist, and i think with some justification, that a country like the united states house to be able to do things in the international arena without acknowledging them. >> there you are. >> there you are. >> i do not know why we do this. i have the same problem. i can see what i was like all those years ago. any reaction? >> i sounded pretty authoritative. it has always been fun.
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c-span has been a good place for me, a comfortable home. i am always happy to come on. >> is this your first pulitzer prize? >> yes. >> what is it like? from now on, you will be referred to as "the pulitzer prize-winning dave wood." >> is an astounding honor. you go to a luncheon at columbia university, which gives the prize. the luncheon is held in the library, which is a huge marble, ornate, domed building. you could sort of feel the weight of history there. of course, the room was full of previous pulitzer prize winners. just the cream of american arts and letters in journalism. there is also a pulitzer prize
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for poetry, fiction, non- fiction, history, and so forth. tremendously accomplished people. i sat at the table with an afghan photographer whose photo -- i am sure you have seen it. there was a wedding, a suicide bomber, carnage, and in the middle, a young girl standing up, something. it was such a powerful photograph. i said to him at some point, "this is a great honor for you." he said, "this is a great honor for south asian journalists, because it shows we compete in the same world as you do. it is for all of us." >> did you get any reaction from the subjects of your story? >> they were delighted. we got to be pretty close. i got to be pretty close with
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some of these subjects, because you are talking about such intimate, personal things. all of them want their story told, not out of pride, but because they want people to understand what they are going through, and they want other wounded people to know is going to be all right. >> what grade would you give -- start with the u.s. government, politicians, and the american people -- when it comes to taking care of these people who have come close to losing their lives, and the kind of treatment they get for the rest of their lives? >> starting with the government, i would give them a b. so much of the care i saw was so, so good. technically good, but also, the people that work in the military hospitals, in the va system, could easily find a better paying jobs elsewhere,
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but they are working there because they really care. it sounds like a cliche, but it is true. if you go to the amputee center, for example, at walter reed, the people who work there are the absolute best. at the same time, there are gaps in what the government does. there are gaps in what it can do. there are a lot of veterans who do not get reached. the va cannot compel a veteran to come in for treatment. so there are gaps. politicians -- i think it is awfully easy to be laudatory about wounded warriors. there is a lot of great rhetoric. i think it is harder for an individual politician to connect in and get something done. i know a lot of them go to walter reed with no press, and
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no publicity. they just go because it is part of what they see as their duty. i think that is great. the american public, i find, is enormously sympathetic, but they do not know what to do or how to behave. again, the thing i learned from knowing so many of these wounded people is, go ask what happened. say, "thank you for your service. welcome home. can i ask what happened?" they want to talk. >> this happened at the national press club in 2002. >> david is a much dybbuk reporter, more comfortable sleeping in the rain with the grunts then going to a pentagon briefing. you should know, dave, that that is not all she said. she added that in seven years
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as your editor, she has never gotten a call from anybody contesting the facts or challenging your analysis. frankly, i am very envious. i am beginning to think i am in the wrong profession. i am delighted and honored to present you the ford prize for distinguished reporting on national defense. would you come forward? >> is there anything wrong with a former president giving out awards? is there a chance to get too close? >> heck, know. i think it is fine. it was quite an honor to be recognized by a former president, former president ford. when i gave my little acceptance remarks, i said it is not true that i am more
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comfortable sleeping in the rain. i do not like sleeping in the rain. but i have done it a lot. >> are you going to go to war again? >> i do not know. i am 67 years old. i am starting to be more cognizant of all the danger i have been in for most of my career, and what i put my family through. it is very hard to do. and there is so much good reporting to be done here about veterans and what they are going through. so i think i am home for awhile. >> help the audience, if they want to read your whole report. this is an ebook. >> it is on amazon. the easiest way to do it is to go to the huffington post website. search for "beyond the battlefield," or david wood. >> people call you david, not dave? >> which ever, but on the
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website, it is david. >> are you still a conscientious objector? >> i will always be a firstborn quaker. i was recently baptized as an episcopalian. let us say i was a seasoned pacifist. i see so much of the war. i do not see a lot of good coming out of war. it is enormously destructive for the people who are in it, for the people who are hurt by it. i have never seen a war that really solved a social issue. at the same time, there are individual acts of incredible valor and sacrifice and love that happen in war, that makes it fascinating for an outsider to watch. but i would be happy if there was no more war.
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>> david wood, thank you very much. >> thank you, brian. what an honor to be here. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2012] >> for a dvd copy of this program, call the number on your screen. for free transcripts, or to give us your comments about this program, visit us online. our programs are also available as c-span podcasts. >> live coverage on the cspan that works today -- on c-span, the u.s. house of representatives is in many eastern. on c-span 2, democratic senator
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dianne feinstein of california delivers remarks on national- security issues and on c-span 3, our live coverage begins of the 19th annual international aids conference in washington this week. thomas for that at 8:30 eastern. coming up next on "washington journal" the committee for a responsible federal budget released their debt reduction proposal last week. our guest is the committee present -- president. then a discussion on how the defense companies could be affected by sequestration cuts to the defense department budget. our guest is from the aerospace industries association. we will look at the federal response to large wildfires with the u.s. forest fire chief who will talk about how agencies coordinate and where the money is spent in response to the fires. "washington journal"

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